The Pen

A Pen and a Hankie

Amy K RadfordEdit “A Pen and a Hankie”

One morning, my three year old son came down the stairs grinning from ear to ear.  I was slightly confused as I had sent him up to change and he came down looking at me as if I should be aware he had done something special.  I tried to understand what I was missing but all I saw were his usual jeans, sweatshirt, and hat.  I did notice that he had work boots on but I figured he was planning on going outside to play.  He also had a bandana sticking out of his pocket.  Then I noticed a pen behind his ear and began to laugh as he announced, “I’m Papa!”


Dad’s signature pencil or pen behind the ear is iconic.  Often times in elementary school, when I was in desperate need of a pencil to do homework, I would find one with the sides whittled away so it would fit better behind his ear without slipping.  It was even more amusing when I would inadvertently take one to school and receive confused looks from my fellow students.  I would just shrug and say, “My Dad”.  I think it came from him working construction for so long.  The adage measure twice requires a pencil at the ready.


These same pens were passed out everywhere he went.  He would leave half a dozen at our house whenever he came for a visit.  I still have some floating around and when I grab a pen and discover it is one of them, I am reminded of what they represent.

Then there was the ever present “hankie”.  Often a bandana but sometimes an actual white handkerchief, it was always in his pocket, ready to be pulled out whenever there were tears cried or noses that needed to be blown.  For a Daddy’s girl, this provided a deep sense of comfort and security.  I knew Dad would be there when I skinned may knee, was hurt by unkind words, or was terrified about my future.

 I am not sure he intended to be this way but his pen and hankie taught us to be ready to care for others.  Dad and Mom opened their home to those who needed it.  Every summer, before camp began we had staff that lived with us.  Dad would be willing to give someone the shirt off his back as the saying goes.  I often watched them go out of their way to care for those who were hurting.  They are some of the most giving and sacrificial people I know.

On his birthday, I am grateful for these lessons and praying that I can be more like him.

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